Will Maclean: Points of Departure II

11 May-22 Jul 2023

Art First
London SE11 4UA


Spanning fifty years of work, this rich visual feast celebrates Will Maclean’s position as one of the outstanding artists of his generation, still at the height of his powers. Art First is delighted to be presenting important works from Maclean’s celebrated 2022 retrospective exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. 

Maclean’s work is anchored in the history, the archaeology and the literature of the Scottish Highlands and the Highland people, including members of his own family. The exquisite, poetic nature of his box constructions, drawings and sculpture often alludes to Surrealist orthodoxies of assemblage, and of flotsam and jetsam found on beaches and transformed in the studio; yet they also focus on wide-ranging themes relating to the sea. His narratives are at once personal and universal.  On occasion the strongly felt, deeply considered memorials he creates, stand for those individuals and communities who might otherwise never have them. His art eloquently brings the past into an immediately felt present, igniting fresh interest and renewed, dynamic connections for viewers of all ages.

Maclean respects legacy, he delves into history, and the stories, songs and poetry of those who brought him and us with him, into our contemporary culture. The wit, the ‘symbols of survival’, the occasional tragedy referenced in his subject matter, are delivered with a honed brevity and a reflective, tactile beauty that is always a tribute to the real. Like a good poem, ‘often it cut[s] straight to the bone’, as R F Foster wrote recently of Seamus Heaney’s poetry.  (Maclean and Heaney were both participants of The Great Book of Gaelic/An Leabhar Mor, 2002, a collaboration between Irish and Scottish poets and artists which became a world touring exhibition.) 

'Points of Departure II' will run concurrently with  'The Fragile Earth: How pioneer Scottish Artists anticipated the climate crisis’ . This is a group exhibition of six Scottish artists including Will Maclean, curated by the Fleming Collection for Coventry Cathedral (till 29 May)

To read more about Maclean’s exhibition history, the publications about his work, the public collections where his work is held, the great stone monuments on the Isle of Lewis which he oversaw between 1994 – 2018, visit the Art First website: